Summon up ideas of a holiday romance and they might revolve around that teenage summer fling, forever etched into memory as the first time you really, properly kissed someone. Or perhaps it's slightly more cringeworthy, involving beaches, skinny-dipping and the strange decisions one makes when influenced by sangria and sunshine.
Whatever it is, the notion of finding lasting love on holiday generally seems a little far-fetched and more for the silver screen than the likes of us.
But thanks to Airbnb, we now have a few more uplifting tales of loved-up couples and chance encounters to warm the most cynical of hearts to the joy of holiday romance.
Bree and Frank
“When this 6ft 5 blonde German guy turned up at the house, rackets slung over his shoulder, I confess I was a little distracted”
Two years ago, just before Wimbledon kicked off, Frank and Bree each took a private room in a London Airbnb; Bree to settle into London before starting a new job away from her native Australia, and Frank, a professional tennis player, to represent his home country Germany in the tournament.
According to Bree, sparks flew pretty much instantly.
“I booked a room through Airbnb with a host who had loads of positive reviews and rented three private rooms in her home – it just felt like the right fit,” explains Bree.
“After a couple of days, the host told me we had someone else arriving to stay and that he was a tennis player. I didn’t think much of it at the time, as I was trying to get settled into my new life in London. But when this 6ft 5 blonde German guy turned up at the house, rackets slung over his shoulder, I confess I was a little distracted.
“We chatted for a while and he asked me to go to dinner with him. I turned him down at first, since I’d been out the night before and was still suffering from jet lag, but he won me over in the end – and I’m glad he did.
“Sparks were flying within minutes and we went to dinner every night after that. When he came back for Wimbledon a little while later, we hung out daily and from there we were inseparable. Pretty soon we went away together to Ibiza and it was the first of many places we’d go together.
“Two years on, sparks are still flying – I couldn’t be happier, and I love our life. We still love to use Airbnb when Franky plays in tournaments, and my hairdressing career has been great. We’ve worked out a balanced life that we love.”
Megan and Tocco
“As soon as he opened his door, I felt comfortable and at home with him”
Megan and Tocco met in 2010 through a truly chance encounter during Megan's five-week Airbnb stay in Berlin while on summer break from graduate school.
In the best tradition of happy endings, they are now married and have a newborn baby.
On one of her first days in the city, she went to a café to write postcards and started a conversation with the man next to her by asking how many stamps a postcard back to her family in San Francisco required. He shrugged and didn’t answer.
“I was a little bummed that he didn’t want to talk to me more! So I just went back to writing my postcard, wondering what else I could say. Sure enough, in a minute or so, he looked up from his phone to tell me how many stamps it would be. He’d been looking it up on his phone the whole time.”
After realising she was staying in the flat opposite his, he left a note on the door offering her the use of his bike to explore Berlin.
“When I knocked on his door, I had this small feeling of, like, ‘What am I doing? This guy is a complete stranger!’ but as soon as he opened his door, I felt comfortable and at home with him.
“We decided to go to an outdoor café around the corner for a drink, and we stayed basically all night. Despite the fact that it started raining and all the employees were leaving at the end of their shift, we sat there under the awning talking for hours and hours.”
Tocco adds: “For me, it was when I invited Megan to come with me, my friends, my sister and her kids to the Baltic Sea. I definitely wasn’t looking for anything, but here she was up for this adventure, and she got along with everyone so well. We had this amazing time.
“I had been planning to stay for another week with my sister and her family while Megan went back to Berlin. But after she left, my sister looked at me – knowing better than I did – and said, ‘Are you crazy? What are you still doing here?! Go get her.’ So I did.”
Three months later, the couple were living together in the US and are now settled just outside San Francisco. “It’s crazy to think how much we have been through since Berlin,” Megan says. “So much stuff has happened for both of us in just a few short years. I love to think about the adventure we’ve already gone on together. And how this person was once a complete stranger sitting next to me in a café.
“I don’t know how I would have met Tocco any other way – here I was open to exploring a new city just to break from my normal life in DC. I never would’ve guessed it would lead me to this incredible person.”
Shannon and Josh
“The first thing that struck me was, ‘Wait. Who was this handsome man answering the door?’”
Airbnb brought Shannon and Josh together in San Francisco. Josh was renting guest rooms in his dad Ernie's house through Airbnb after illness left Ernie struggling to pay the bills.
Shannon, meanwhile, had just moved from Edinburgh back to her home country and was figuring out which city she wanted to live in. Though she only stayed a night, when she decided to move to San Francisco permanently a few months later, he was the first person she contacted. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Shannon says: “The first thing that struck me was, ‘Wait. Who was this handsome man answering the door?’ I thought I was staying with an older man and here was his charming son who – while cooking a meal for his father – was helping me with my bags.”
They struck up a conversation standing in the hallway and after hours of chatting, Shannon asked where she should go for dinner.
Josh recalls: “Looking back, I was kicking myself like, ‘You idiot! Why didn’t you ask this girl to have dinner with you?!’ But I wasn’t thinking, and I told her to go check out this great sushi place in Cole Valley, just down the street from us.”
“I was in this sad place of trying to figure out where I belonged after Edinburgh. I didn’t know anymore. Here I was, pretty much crying into my sushi by myself at dinner,” says Shannon. “But there was something about the area. I immediately felt at home.
“I called my friend to tell her, ‘I think this is it! And by the way, you wouldn’t believe: my host is this really good-looking guy who is here taking care of his father and he’s actually cooking!’ I mean, I’d never met a guy like him. ”
Shannon left the next day, but when she made the move to San Francisco a few months later, Josh was the first person she contacted. And a year down the line, they’re living together in the same house.
“This has easily been the best year of my life. I just can’t believe how amazing it’s turned out – from crying into my sushi in Cole Valley, wondering where I belonged, to realising that I could spend the rest of my life with this amazing man who opened his home to me that night. I just feel like we’re so blessed.”
Josh adds: “Here I was, basically never leaving this house because I was up to my ears in textbooks studying, and taking care of my dad and these guests. Then this woman of my dreams literally knocks on my door.”
Images: Lauren Fleishman